While taking part in the UFC Fight Night Dublin pre-fight press conference on Wednesday, Northern Ireland's 'Stormin'' Norman Parke (19-2-1) was questioned about a potential all-Irish encounter between himself and the Republic of Ireland's Conor McGregor (14-2). While the two fighters may have been close to facing off in the domestic scene prior to joining the UFC ranks, McGregor has since progressed to become a featherweight star in the promotion while Parke continues to compete in the lightweight division.
“Possibly, that could happen but right now I think we're on different paths,” explained Parke. “The UFC have got their way for Conor and I'm on my path. If he wants to move up and compete at lightweight, I'm more than welcome to the challenge. If you think this show sold out quick, Croke Park would sell out ten-times quicker. It would be a very good match up of styles, Conor is a very good fighter and I've always followed him, from the start I knew he was going to make it to the big time and I wish him all the best in his journey.”
In contrast, McGregor was slightly less courteous in his response to the TUF Smashes winner, the former two-weight Cage Warriors champion strongly expressed that it would be his name alone that sells out the 82,000 capacity Croke Park.
“Our careers have gone different ways, I've main-evented and I'm happy he's on my under-card,” said McGregor. “As far as me and him selling out Croke Park, lets get it straight, it's me that sells Croke Park and nothing to do with Norman, but Norman's a great guy, if the fight happens it happens, right now I'm focused on featherweight gold and that's that, I feel it's within my reach.”
MMA Plus caught up with Parke the following afternoon to catch his response in an exclusive interview.
Conor McGregor headlines UFC Fight Night in his home town of Dublin this weekend at The O2 where he faces Brazil's Diego Brandao, while Norman Parke takes on Japan's Naoyuki Kotani.
Photo by Jorden Curran